Golfing adds welcome dollars to Pranav’s philanthropic coffer

The clouds parted just in the nick of tee time. Golfers seized the good weather and caddied up for a day on the course—18 holes to philanthropy.

In its second year, the Annual Pranav Mandir Golf Tournament showed no sign of wavering. Rearing $25,000 last year meant another shot at raising funds to support various charitable initiatives. There are children in Guyana, Trinidad, India and right here at home who look to the funds raised at this event to help support their education in the form of scholarships, educational materials, and structural support.

Over 100 players strong, the match opened on Saturday September 11th with blessings from Swami Bhajanananda. Swamiji thanked the volunteers and donors and offered motivational words to get the day started on high morale.Having spent a good three hours on the green of the Royal Ontario Golf Course, Swamiji did some putting, but spent most of the time travelling via golf cart accompanied by his students, giving moral support and distributing refreshments to the golfers.

The event was deliberated by a committee consisting of Dhaman Kissoon, Danny Kissoon, Sat and Linda Purushuttam, Krish Kissoon, Mitra Kissoon, Mike Singh and Baghmattie Persaud. Their work allows the organization to raise an ample sum of money in a short period of time to cover the costs of aid whichwould normally take months of donations from temple supporters. “The burden would be put on the membership of the ashram,” said Linda Purushuttam. “Every temple has a Diwali show so it’s very hard to charge a substantial price to raise the funds that we would raise here. We would be relying on the members who are already giving so much with their time and donations.”

Mrs. Purushuttam helped organize the previous years’ golf tournament and is a member of Pranav Mandir and its head organization, the Pranav Cultural Centre. “I brought a group from the ashram to participate so they could feel a sense of connectivity and feel that they have contributed to this huge fundraising initiative.”

The group of 15 volunteers organized by Mrs. Purushuttam consisted of students of the Pranav Cultural Centre’s Music and Heritage Classes, parents, friends and family. Among them was 13 year-old Reshmi Geer who is often seen leading the choir in devotional songs during temple services. Reshmi begins her first year in high school this September and is looking forward to the next four years before she heads off to college. For Reshmi, getting a scholarship from the Pranav Cultural Centre means, “that all the work you have been doing for the past four years is getting noticed. Even if you don’t get noticed at school, you’re getting noticed at some point in your life, so it doesn’t feel like you’re in the dark all the time.”

Reshmi joined the temple’s Heritage Class when she was 6 years old and attributes much of her personal and academic growth to the teachings of her guru. “It makes me proud to know that I have an education in something that’s different,” said Reshmi. She is just one part of Mrs. Purushuttam’s village-to-raise-a-child philosophy which is communal and practical among members of the cultural centre and their spiritual leader, Swami Bhajanananda, and the reason why high emphasis is placed on the success of events such as this.

Likewise, the tournament is only as successful as its participants. This year featured 25 teams playing the course, putting games and raffle prizes to help fill the cash pot and trophies awarded to the best drives, closest to the pin, most honest golfer and the winner of the tournament.
“There are lots of novice players this year who are excited to be on a team,” said Mrs. Purushuttam. “The weather was good, the company was good,” said Sunil Singh, Pranav Mandir member of over 18 years and participant in the tournament. “You get to meet a lot of people from in the community and out of the community. A lot of different people are coming in which is really good.”

The tournament amassed over $25,000, surpassing expectations and last year’s total. While there were fewer individual players, sponsors were plentiful—many of whom are not members of the cultural centre. “With respect to the Guyanese and West Indian community, the people that we have here and friends that are almost universal—people from Africa, people from Asia, people from Europe, people from the Caribbean,” said Mr. Kissoon. “They come out to support Swami because they see what he’s doing and they recognize the work that he’s doing for the children.”

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Indo-Caribbean World, September 15, 2010

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